Garnett carries Celtics to 99-95 win over Raptors

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Garnett carries Celtics to 99-95 win over Raptors

TORONTO You don't build up the kind of Hall of Fame credentials that Kevin Garnett has without dominating a game or two along the way.
Even at 36, KG still has it in him to be the best player on the floor -- even if he's the oldest.
The Toronto Raptors found that out on Wednesday night as Garnett carried the Celtics to a 99-95 win.
It was his 12-foot fadeaway jumper with less than a minute to play that put the Celtics ahead 96-91 in what eventually turned out to be the game-winning basket.
But the Raptors weren't done.
After cutting Boston's lead to three points, Toronto forced Paul Pierce into a tough off-balance shot that rimmed out. In the scramble for the rebound, it eventually sailed out of bounds off of Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan with 18 seconds to play.
From there, Toronto intentionally fouled Jeff Green who made the second free throw with 17.6 seconds to play that gave the C's a 97-93 lead.
Rudy Gay had two shots around the basket -- both misses -- with the loose ball eventually being rebounded by Courtney Lee who was immediately fouled with 9.8 seconds to play.
Lee made both free throws to finally put the game away.
Boston (25-23) has now five straight, with Wednesday's victory being their first away from the TD Garden.
Garnett was indeed the one that led the way, but not too far behind him was Leandro Barbosa who had 14 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter.
After falling behind by 10 points going into the fourth, the Celtics opened the quarter with a 7-0 spurt capped off by a 12-foot pull-up jumper by Jason Terry off a Jeff Green steal.
Toronto called a time-out, well aware that they were looking at yet another second-half collapse, which has been one of the constants with their team all season.
"We have to get better at finishing games off," Toronto big man Amir Johnson said prior to the game.
Toronto had a stretch earlier this year in which they led at the half in nine straight games, but came away losers six times.
Wednesday had the makings of another late-game collapse for the Raptors, and an impressive comeback for the Celtics.
An improbable over the shoulder shot by Garnett plus the free throw, tied the game at 79.
But the Raptors were not willing to concede this one, as they continued to make the most of Boston's mistakes.
After a lay-up by Kyle Lowry off a bad pass by Boston put the Raptors ahead 83-81, it was the Raptor's 26th point off of 13 Celtics turnovers.
After seemingly righting their ways in the second quarter, they reverted back to committing the many miscues that had them in a back-and-fourth tussle with the Raptors earlier in the game.
Specifically, their turnovers.
It wasn't so much that the Celtics had that many.
It's just that when they made a mistake, the Raptors quickly capitalized on it with points of their own.
And making matters worst, Garnett picked up his fourth personal foul with 6:48 to play in the third quarter which immediately sent him to the bench.
Garnett on the sideline is never a good look for the Celtics, especially on a night like Wednesday when he was scoring the ball with such ease.
While his departure was relatively close to when he usually sits, his absence and the absence of anyone filling his void, was apparent.
Within a couple of minutes, Boston saw itself looking up to a 69-65 deficit following a dunk by Andrea Bargnani.
But the Celtics dealt with that adversity in the same manner they have done of late -- deal with it, and after that, get the win.

Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

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Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, a good friend of Brad Stevens, is out in Indiana.

Pacers president Larry Bird made the official announcement on Thursday.

Vogel’s contract was up in Indiana and Bird elected to not renew it. That, according to Bird, was hard for Vogel to hear.

Both Bird and Vogel spoke shortly before Bird’s press conference with members of the media, and that’s when Bird gave him the news.

There is speculation now as to who will take over as head coach. With Kevin McHale removing himself from consideration for the Sacramento Kings job, there was some thought that he could become the head coach of the Pacers under good friend and former teammate Bird.

That isn’t going to happen either.

Which players fill Celtics Top 5 draft needs?

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Which players fill Celtics Top 5 draft needs?

BOSTON – When it comes to the NBA Draft, nobody has the flexibility to address a need the way the Celtics can this year.
 
If you are a draft-eligible player expected to be among the 60 names called next month, you are within the Celtics’ reach of being drafted.
 
That’s what having eight draft picks (three in the first round and five in the second) can do for you.
 
And while the Celtics have lots of needs, here’s a look at five specifically that they can address through the draft, and the best players to fill those voids.
 
5. Undervalued talent: Marquese Chriss
Getting players whose talent exceeds where they are drafted is certainly something the Celtics would love to do in a year when they have so many picks. Marquese Chriss of Washington could be that player. He’s a 6-9 forward who in this small-ball era in the NBA, can play both forward positions and have a matchup advantage at both spots. He’s targeted to be selected in the middle of the first round which makes him a prime target of the Celtics who could tab him with their second, first-round selection which will be the 16th overall pick.
 
 
4. Rim Protection
You have to give the Celtics props for having a defense that ranked 4th in the NBA despite no legit rim protector other than 6-9 Amir Johnson. As good as Johnson was, the Celtics need to add at least another player or two with rim protection as their strength. Enter Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis. He’s limited offensively in terms of what he can do, but his knack for blocking/altering shots, lateral quickness, vertical leap and overall strength makes him a force in the middle. He too is a player Boston has to give some thought to selecting if he’s still on the board (he’s considered a possible late-lottery pick) when it’s time for the Celtics to choose at No. 16.
 
 
3. Defensive versatility
One of the reasons Boston’s defense was so good this season was because of its ability to make defensive switches and it not create huge mismatches. Having players with the talent and skill to defend multiple positions will remain something the Celtics will also value on draft night. That’s why Jaylen Brown of Cal could be in the mix depending on where the pick Boston gets from Brooklyn, eventually falls. If it’s outside of the top-4, Brown becomes a viable possibility. He gets props for his strength and ability to use it as a means of scoring. But NBA teams are just as excited about his potential as a defender, already possessing an NBA-ready body with the tools to potentially defend all three perimeter positions.
 
2. Wing scoring
The Celtics ranked 11th in 3-pointers taken per game (26.1) but only 28th in 3-point percentage (.335) which shows that they were getting plenty of long-range shots but unable to make them with any consistency. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield could change all that. He was hands-down the best shooter in college basketball this past season. And with him being a senior, he’s more likely to come in and make an immediate impact than many of his younger draft brethren who are judged more on potential than proven work. If the Celtics wind up with a top-3 pick, Hield would be a bit of a stretch. But if Boston is on the clock with the No. 4, 5 or 6th pick, he should be on their short list of possible targets.
 
 
1. Superstar potential
The best shot Boston has of landing that superstar they’ve longed for, is to land the top overall pick. And with that pick, there’s a growing consensus that Duke’s Brandon Ingram should be that guy rather than LSU’s Ben Simmons. Ingram has a game that in many ways is reminiscent to a young Kevin Durant. But at this stage, Ingram is a better 3-point shooter (he shot 41 percent on 3s in his lone season at Duke) which is one of the many areas Boston could use a boost through the draft.
 
 

Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

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Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

If you know anything about basketball in the 1980s and early 1990s, you know it was a physical game. And in the playoffs, that physicality multiplied.

The Boston Celtics were no exception to that. There are countless highlights of Celtics players getting into it with their opponents, but perhaps the most famous incident was when Kevin McHale clothelined the Lakers' Kurt Rambis in Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was a member of that team, and discussed that play on Thursday morning with the guys from the Toucher and Rich Show.

“I remember that we were at shootaround the morning of the Kevin McHale / Kurt Rambis clothesline incident,” Ainge said. “They had just beat us by 30 . . . it was Hollywood showtime Lakers all the way and we were humiliated. We came to practice the next day and we had some guys chirping about that, like, ‘We have to take some hard fouls. We cannot let these guys fast break over us and dunk on us in transition. We have to take some hard fouls.’ And I said to the whole team, I like screamed at them, I said, ‘Hey listen, I’m booed in every arena in this league because I’m the only guy who takes hard fouls. I need some of you guys to take some hard fouls. And sure enough Kevin clothelined Kurt Rambis and that was sweet.”